THE HIGHWAY MAN

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Mistakes noobs make

Words: DR. ARNOB GUPTA

arnob_gupta
You’re embarking on your first long solo ride. So what can you do to minimize risks as you tread into unfamiliar territory? Plenty, starting with what you do even before you set off. Namely, your gear and the stuff you take with you.

Mistake#1: Got helmet, am dressed

Prepare for the crash, which you do not want to have. A proper med kit. Helmet. Riding/ankle length boots. A tough jacket. Back protector once you can get hold of one . Elbow and knee guards. Proper gloves, with palm protection. Why? Simply because all this can mean the difference between getting back onto your bike and riding on, and a horizontal trip to the hospital with a broken knee, and a mashed hand.

Mistake#2: Attitude

The highway is a place you don’t take risks ever. EVER.  If you are in the habit of taking gambles on the road, you WILL pay the forfeit. It’s just a question of when. Added to which are the empty roads which lure you into seeing how far you can send the speedo to the east, when around the next corner is a bull that has just decided to cross the road to introduce itself to that cow with loose morals on the other side of the road.

Mistake#3: My stopping distance is the empty road I can see ahead

Not true. It grandly assumes that oncoming traffic will stay on the correct side of the road. You have to give oncoming traffic on the wrong side time to react and slow down (happens very often when somebody makes a dog’s dinner of an overtaking pass)– and this eats into your stopping distance. Be prepared to stop within HALF the road you can see.

Mistake# 4: Using the whole road in the corners

Especially true for blind corners!  Using the whole road means that there is no room for evasive action in case of emergencies, but staying in the centre of your lane means, that in a pinch you can actually flick the bike upright and scrub off speed in a straight line in case you have to. But for that you need road, which you won’t have if you take a corner at top speed. It’s also a common error to go in too fast and then discover that the corner has a reducing radius/gravel/wrong camber.

Mistake# 5: Staying on the fast lane

Unfortunately, the authorities have planted trees and shrubs on many medians, which means that you will not see breaks in the median until you are upon them. Too many people have this cute habit of hopping out of the shrubbery onto the centre of the fast lane. Riding to the left of the lane marking, assuming it is a two lane road gives, you a very valuable couple of seconds extra, both to see and be seen, because of the angle.

Mistake #6: Keeping up with the others.

Call it peer pressure.  Or whatever. In the city you get to do 0 high speed turns. On the highways, it may be one every 2 km. It’s a skill you don’t have yet. Trying to follow the guy in front whose brake lights don’t even come on before the corner is simply a recipe for disaster. Take it easy, ride at YOUR speed. When Rossi up front starts missing you, he’ll stop/turn back.

Mistake # 7: The marathon first ride.

Keep it short (max 4 hrs) and take breaks. The first ride out of town IS dangerous, no need to make it even more dangerous with fatigue, tingly fingers and a sore butt added to the equation. Avoid riding at night on the highway until you have at least 3-4 rides under your belt. It’s a different ball game altogether.

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